Small Business Minister, Busa pays tributes to late Dr Sam Motsuenyane

A number of government and business leaders have expressed their sorrow and admiration after it was announced that Dr Sam Motsuenyane had passed away on Monday. Picture: African Bank X account

A number of government and business leaders have expressed their sorrow and admiration after it was announced that Dr Sam Motsuenyane had passed away on Monday. Picture: African Bank X account

Published May 1, 2024


Minister of Small Business Development, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams marked the death of Dr Sam Motsuenyane as the end of an era in South Africa.

Motsuenyane was lauded as a pioneer businessman, farmer, philanthropist and the father of African Bank. He died on Monday and was 97 years old.

The minister said that he represented a generation of black entrepreneurs who managed to take their destinies into their own hands and built business empires despite the formidable odds against them.

She said that his successes defied the apartheid logic.

“Dr Motsuenyane was a doyen of black business and a torchbearer of black economic empowerment. He was also a veteran of our liberation struggle. He contributed enormously to the downfall of apartheid and was one of the architects of our new democracy,” she said.

“As a co-founder of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc), Dr Motsuenyane will be remembered as a tireless advocate and defender of the interests of black business in our country, especially during the dark days of apartheid,” Ndabeni-Abrahams explained.

Establishing African Bank

The minister also recognised the impact Dr Motsuenyane played in the establishment of African Bank and his role in assisting black South Africans gain more economic freedom.

“It shall be recalled that the apartheid regime denied the black majority the right to trade and conduct businesses of their choice. With the laws of the land and economic policies heavily stacked against them and with policies intended to squeeze them out of economic activity, Dr Motsuenyane and his peers rose and emerged to become business icons of our nation.

“We salute them for carving their own path despite heavy odds stacked against them,” she said.

Ramaphosa pays tribute

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also paid tribute to Dr Motsuenyane, who was bestowed with the National Order of the Baobab in Gold in recognition of his significant personal achievements and the inspiration and leadership he provided in fostering the development of black-owned businesses and economic liberation more broadly.

“The passing of Dr Sam Motsuenyane 60 years after the establishment of Nafcoc is a profound reminder of the breadth, durability and longevity of his vision and passion for self-reliance and development,” Ramaphosa said.

“The remarkable sweep of his life as an entrepreneur, leader of organised business, parliamentarian and diplomat among other roles embodied our resilient national character and values of ubuntu”.

“His philosophy of self-sufficiency is today entrenched in the constitutional right each of us enjoys to freely choose our trade, occupation or profession and in the socio-economic rights that our Constitution safeguards,” Ramaphosa said.

Not just a trailblazer

The Business Unity South Africa (Busa) called Dr Motsuenyane an icon and said he left an indelible mark on the SA's business landscape.

According to Khulekani Mathe, Busa CEO Designate Dr Motsuenyane was not only a trailblazer in the business world but also a beacon of hope for aspiring entrepreneurs across South Africa.

“His legacy will forever be remembered as a testament to the power of perseverance and the indomitable human spirit," Mathe added.

"Dr. Motsuenyane's dedication to uplifting marginalised communities through sustainable agricultural initiatives was unparalleled. His vision and leadership have contributed to a more inclusive and prosperous future for all South Africans," Cas Coovadia, Busa CEO said.